The Best 5 Side Hustles for Software Developers

With the rise of the Gig Economy throughout the late 2010s, the phrase “side hustle” has firmly planted itself in our daily vocabulary.


Considering that 37% of Americans already have a side job, nothing is stopping you from also stepping up to the plate.


In this article, I’ll be covering the 5 best side hustles for software developers, detailing how you can use your existing skillset to generate extra money each month.


If you’re a software engineer, you have a valuable skill set that you can mobilize to create a side hustle that allows you to make money online, cultivate an additional stream of income, and make progress towards financial freedom.


Be sure to read to the end, as I’ll be discussing the best side hustle last!

What are the best side hustles for software

developers?

While there are many side hustles that a software developer can decide to pursue, each of them offer their unique set of pros and cons.


The 5 side hustles I’ve selected range across active and passive income sources, letting you select whichever works best.


I’ll be discussing the following side hustles:

1. Freelancing

2. Bug Bounty

3. Mentoring

4. Selling code/themes

5. Micro-SaaS Apps

Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.

Freelancing

There’s a reason that the total number of freelancers in the US has increased, especially during the recent pandemic, more

and more people are flocking to this flexible side hustle.


Freelancing is one of the easiest side hustles to begin, and one that can scale into a fully-fledged career.

Considering that freelancing has no minimum or maximum hourly cap each week, you’ll be able to do as much or as little of this side hustle as you’d like, allowing you to fit this

into your weekly schedule.


If you’re looking for an extra few hours of work after your 9-5, or maybe to even fill your Saturday with freelance projects, you’ll have the flexibility to do so.


As a freelance software developer, you’ll mainly be finding projects through Freelancing job sites like Upwork and Fiverr.


These allow you to quickly set up a profile and advertise your services.


Depending on your particular skill set, the actual content of the tasks

you’re involved in may vary.

Benefits of freelancing as a software developer:

  • Flexible schedule – choose your hours.
  • Location independent – work from anywhere.
  • Project variety – experience a number of different technology stacks working for a number of clients.

Downsides of freelancing as a software developer:

  • Money is capped – paid per hour work, income constrained by available time.
  • Clients – finding new contracts can be difficult, especially in the early days.
  • No work, no pay – if you’re sick or unable to work due to family issues, you don’t get

paid.

Bug Bounty

Bug Bounty is a side hustle in which a software developer will look for bugs within a person or company’s code.


Your primary aim will be to uncover any vulnerabilities in the code, looking for exploits or errors.


You’ll be paid for any bugs that you uncover, working quickly to discover as many as possible before other software developers find them.

There are a range of Bug Bounty programs, both public and private.


However, if you’re just starting with this side hustle, I recommend you try Bugcrowd.

Benefits of Bug Bounty:

  • Chance for substantial pay outs – one hacking event garnered over $1 million in pay outs to several hackers.
  • Location freedom – as long as you have internet, you can work from anywhere on the planet.
  • Ethical Hacking – your work goes to improve software security and ensures that millions of users’ accounts are safer and more secure as a result.

Downsides of Bug Bounty:

  • Instability – if you’re not the first to find a bug, you don’t get paid. This generates a great deal of income instability.
  • Comparison and Burnout – you’ll be working against other hackers, seeing when they discover bugs before you. This can lead to burnout and frustration.
  • Schedule concerns – if these bug bounty competitions have a start/end date that don’t work for you, then it’s likely you’ll miss out on the income opportunity.

Mentoring

It’s undeniable that software development is a valuable skill. Just like any other skill, it must be cultivated over time, a developer refines their skillset until they have thorough knowledge and experience of the field.


If you are particularly skilled in an area of software development, you’ll be able to offer your services as a mentor, helping people learn or improve their own skills. There are a variety of platforms to mentor on.


If you’d like to stay online and increase the convenience of this side hustle, then CodeMentor or SuperProf are great places to get

started.

Benefits of Mentoring:

  • Rates – you decide your own rate.
  • Time – you decide when you’re available to mentor.
  • Consistent – after finding a pool of students, you’ll have a stable additional income.

Drawbacks of Mentoring:

  • Teaching Skills – no matter how fantastic you are at coding, if you aren’t a particularly gifted teacher, you may struggle.
  • Slow beginning – you’ll have to find students and get reviews under your belt before having a stable income.
  • Unpredictable demand – unfortunately, mentees in need of a mentor with your skillset aren’t available on tap. As such, you’re best not to rely on this as a primary income source.

Selling Custom Themes for Shopify as A Side Hustle

With the incredible boom of eCommerce over the last several years, custom themes for

Shopify have never been in higher demand.


If you’re looking for a lucrative source of additional income, then building these templates and themes can work fantastically.


The backbone of Shopify themes is the programming language Liquid.


If you have knowledge of Liquid or learn how to code in this language, then you can begin to build

custom Shopify themes.

There are two main ways you can go about this. The first is creating themes and then listing them on the Shopify store for others to buy.


This will create a recurring source of

passive income, as you create something once and sell it many times within the listings.


Alternatively, you can combine these skills with freelancing, offering your services on a contractual basis and coding custom themes for businesses that request them.


Either one of these can work wonderfully as a side hustle, allowing you to gain an additional

income stream alongside your day job.

Benefits of Selling Shopify Themes:

  • High Demand – many people seek a way to have their store stand out.
  • Build It Once, Sell to Many – this is a true source of passive income if you list your builds on the Shopify store for users to purchase.
  • Easy to get started – there’s great documentation for Shopify’s programming language Liquid and you can have your first theme knocked out in just a few hours.

Drawbacks of Selling Shopify Themes:

  • Uncertain – there’s no guarantee that users will buy your theme, which in turn would mean you’ve wasted your time.
  • Copycats – people may copy your themes and then undercut you. It’s difficult to protect your intellectual property.
  • Ecosystem reliance – imagine if you’d invested months into building and maintaining several themes only for the Shopify platform to lose popularity or worst still, go bust!

Building a Micro SaaS Application

Finally, we arrive at the crown jewel of side hustles for software developers.


Micro SaaS apps are subscription-based apps that users buy to solve a specific problem in their niche. Just like SaaS (software as a service), they benefit from the concept of “build it once, sell to many”.


By creating a Micro SaaS application, you’ll be able to list your product on the market, collecting recurring payments as your userbase is billed monthly or annually.


Micro SaaS apps are completely scalable, meaning you can start this out as a side hustle, before then turning it into a stream of passive income that is large enough for you to quit the corporate 9-5 (this is exactly what I have done!).



One of the core characteristics of a solid Micro SaaS application is that it directly solves

a problem.


Due to this, people will continue to subscribe as your application actively

makes their life easier, providing them value on a continual basis.


While the seeds of building a Micro SaaS app begin as a side hustle, this pathway can become so much more, eventually leading you to complete financial freedom.


But that’s not all; there are a range of benefits of micro SaaS apps that you can capitalize on.


This is by far one of the very best ways of earning additional income as a software developer.

Benefits of Micro SaaS Apps:

  • Disproportionate Income - you are no longer being paid per hour, but rather for the result of your efforts in building a great product. As such, it’s not uncommon for solodevelopers to generate disproportionately large monthly incomes ($10k - $100k monthly recurring revenue).
  • Compounding Results – instead of starting at zero each month as you do in other side hustles, you build upon both the existing subscriber base and the app’s features each month.
  • Minimal Start-up Costs – it’s just your spare time you’re risking.

Drawbacks of Micro SaaS Apps:

  • Reliance on Ecosystems – If you build your app on a platform, your own success is tied to that platform's ecosystem. If the system fails or declines in popularity, your app will also suffer the consequences. If you’re just building your own app rather than a plugin then you’ll be protected from this reliance.
  • CopyCat Potential - if people see your app gaining popularity, they may launch a competing product. Minimise the effects of copycats by obfuscating your code and offering a great customer experience so they won’t need to look elsewhere.
  • Multi-tasking Mayhem – you better be good at multi-tasking as you’ll need to wear many hats. Ranging from programmer to project manager, marketer, support agent, finance manager, etc.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to earn additional income as a software developer, then any one of these 5 side hustles is worth pursuing.


You’ll be able to make money online, receive a recurring income, and perhaps even make enough to quit your 9-5 software engineer

job.


Out of the five software developer side hustles I’ve listed, I highly recommend you look into creating Micro SaaS apps.


It is by far the most rewarding side hustle as it utilises the coding skills you have and offers the additional benefits of location, time, and

financial freedom. What more could you need!


Not sure where to get started? Take a look at my comprehensive guide to building and monetising Micro SaaS apps, which will walk you through the process right from the

initial stages all the way up to launching and scaling your Micro SaaS app.